Annie Liebowitz

EB and I went to see the Annie Liebowitz exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery today.  Admission was included when we paid for the Ansel Adams exhibit earlier.  

I first became aware of Annie Liebowitz because of my love for John Lennon and Yoko Ono.  Liebowitz was the photographer who took the famous Rolling Stone cover of the couple lying on a bed.  Yoko, fully clothed and staring out directly are the viewer.  John, naked, wrapped in a fetal position around her.

Having become "a fan" of Liebowitz, I came to know other photos by her - Bette Middler naked in a bed of roses, Whoopie in a bathtub of milk - her dark skin in contrast to the white, Chris Rock in white-face - amazing.  

The exhibit, designed by Liebowitz herself, interspersed her professional work with personal pictures of family and friends.  It gave me a voyeuristic feel to see her parents and her friend, author Susan Sontag, exposed by the same eye as saw those celebrities.  

In her photos, there is a jolt of surprise, a visceral stir, seeing something both staged (obviously composed) and uncomfortably intimate at the same time.  Exposing some essence of a person and/or what we project on to them.

Which is why I was surprised to read that Liebowitz does not see herself as a portrait photographer.  In fact, the exhibit says she'd prefer landscape photography like her hero, Ansel Adams. I can understand admiring Adams.  But the examples of her landscape photos were not particularly inspiring, not like Adams', whereas her portrait photos... If what was written is true then it's  a shame she doesn't see where her gifts lie.

Ansel Adams

The Golden Gate Before the Bridge

EB and I went to see the Ansel Adams exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery today. I have long been a fan. (Who isn't?) Even so the exhibit surprised me.

Yes, I was expecting the beautiful photos of Yosemite and other natural scenery, and they were there in all their glory.  But I wasn't expecting the photos of buildings and statuary and other references to human civilization.There were photos of the Sutro Baths in San Francisco (I'd heard of them but never seen them before) and of small suburban towns in SoCal. And they were lovely photos, every bit as lovely as the national parks. In addition, it seemed that Ansel loved the same places that I love - Cali, the Southwest, New York... I was really surprised to see photos of both Pueblos and Manhattan. Guess I was a fan who didn't know very much about Mr. Adams after all. What a gift to see my beloved places through his eyes.  The unexpected side-effect of taking in all this beauty is that I am now extremely home-sick. Homesick for California. Homesick for the Southwest. Homesick for New York. But mostly homesick for San Francisco, my love.

Red Hibiscus and an Orange Moon

Yvonne came to be my first guest in my new home. As a house warming present she brought a beautiful hibiscus plant with large deep red flowers. We planted it on the side of the front yard, where we'll be able to see it when I eventually get some porch furniture. Since Vonnie had attended a conference in New Jersey with the plant in the car, it was a little worse for wear and I've been fussing about it since it went into the ground on Friday. The hot weather has not helped, and the flowers that were on the plant have all drooped and died. Grimly, I cut off the dead heads.

But this morning, I came outside to be greeted by a big fat beautiful red flower. A new bud had blossomed and I could see more buds were in the works. A fine house-warming indeed.

And tonight, as I walked back to the house from my back alley, I looked up and saw a big fat beautiful nearly full orange moon. Not off-white or yellow, but orange. Don't know why. I had missed the lunar eclipse from last night - the sky was too overcast - but tonight made up for that.

Unearthly Beauty

A friend forwarded me some pictures taken by the Hubble Telescope. Supposedly, after more than 15 years of snapping pics, the guys at NASA voted on the ten images they thought were the most spectacular. All ten were amazing but I actually liked some of the ones that ranked "lower" better. The colors are unbelievable. They remind me of William Blake.

Coming in at numero uno is the Sombrero Galaxy, and it truly is just a pristine picture.

"The Perfect Storm," a small region of the Swan Nebula came in at number seven but I thought it was the most amazing thing I've ever seen. I can picture Urizen there measuring the solar systems.

And lastly but not leastly, "Starry Night," named after the Van Gogh painting. It too reminds me of Blake. Heck, it looks unreal.

To see all the pics visit the Gallery pages of the Hubble site.

Warm and Fuzzies

Another discomfort I've been dealing with these past days is a terrible toothache - bad enough that I finally made an appointment with a dentist.  And if you understood how much pain I can put up with you'd know it was bad for me to actually make the appointment.  As I suspected, I needed a root canal.  I'd never had one before; all I know about them is that those who have had them hate them.  But my dentist said don't worry; they only hurt if the dentist doesn't do it right and that she would do it right.  I trusted her and at any rate, I had no choice.

So this afternoon I had my first (and hopefully last) root canal and aside from the chunk it took out of my wallet it was almost entirely painless.  With my mouth no longer screaming at me I left her office quite content and proceeded to walk the 2-1/2 blocks back to my office (how's that for convenience?), reveling in the novelty of painlessness.  And as I was waiting for the light to turn I noticed one of those fuzz balls - don't know what plant it's from - that float around DC certain times of year.  It glided through the air like Glinda the good witch, coming slowly yet directly right at me.  Normally if I try to catch one of these fuzz balls, they will dart away, carried by the air.  But this one came right at me, and as I cupped my hands in front of my solar plexus, it glided gently into place as if that's where it was aiming to be.  

I feel more centered than I have in a long time.

Cool Morning

I haven't blogged about it because who wants to hear more complaining, but it has been sooooo hot this summer. The usual afternoon thunderstorms that cool us off a bit have been missing this year and the evenings are almost just as uncomfortable as the days. Opening a window at night offers no respite. In fact, for the first two weeks after I moved into my house I slept in living room (on the first floor) partly because I couldn't stand the temperature in the bedroom (on the second floor).

So why am I talking about it now? Because this morning I opened the front door to go outside and it was chilly!! It was foggy and damp and reminded me of my home town of San Francisco. The entire street in "soft-focus"; so beautiful. Words cannot describe how happy I am.

Moment of Peace

General Assembly, where UUs from all across the country - all across the world, actually - is an exciting time.  There are workshops and visiting booths and shopping and plenary (internal business) sessions and satellite meetings and public witness events and catching up with old friends and making new ones.  And for some of us, also staffing the booth and attending meetings and making announcements.  

In short, GA is exciting and also overwhelming.  Not conducive to taking the time to breathe, let alone celebrate the summer solstice.  But as it was, the longest day of the year fell during GA.  And Mer and I decided to take some time off to go outside the convention center and pay our respects to the sun.

She had been running earlier so she knew the neighborhood around the Portland Convention Center better than I.  We walked a couple of blocks to the bank of the river, and there, over-looking the water, was a giant peace sign made of grass and flowers.  We strolled into the very center of the circle, looking at the sunlight reflecting off the water, then turned and faced each other.  I read a short piece from our hymnal.  And then we stood there, in the bright warmth.... surrounded by flowers, in the heart of peace.  

I remember it being quiet, but it couldn't have been, could it?  With all the bicyclists and people walking by, having fun.

On the way back to the convention center was an empty lot, filled with wildflowers.  (So not so empty after all.) Wild colors. And then it was back into the concrete cavern for the rest of the day.  But that seemed to make the moment of sunshine even brighter in my mind.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Summer Solstice.

A Perfect Storm

When I was growing up in San Francisco, I remember earthquakes as being more commonplace than thunderstorms.  Thunder and lightening were rare and terrifying enough in fact that I would hide underneath the dining room table, whereas earthly tremors elicited excited laughter from me.  One afternoon in particular, I remember walking a school friend to her home after the library and looking to the north and seeing the sky blotted out by enormous charcoal clouds rolling in my direction.  Some part of me was old enough to know it was just a storm.  Some other part of me believed the world was going to end.

Here on the East Coast, thunderstorms are common during the summer.  And given the temporary respite from the heat and humidity, I've come to quite like them.  Today, however, I felt the same thrill of terror and awe.

It was the hottest, muggiest day of the year so far (but it's still early).  In the late afternoon, the same enormous charcoal clouds from my childhood were rolling in... from three different directions this time, converging on me.  My little patch of light getting smaller and smaller.  I didn't stay outdoors to watch it completely disappear.  Instead, I came inside, grabbed my laptop, and started blogging.  Outside, the cracks of thunder are so loud that the windows rattle.  The rain is pelting down so hard it sounds like someone dropped a huge box of ball bearings.  It's not even 6pm, two weeks to the summer solstice, and it is dark.

Yet even as I type, I can hear the sound of thunder growing more distant.  All the sound and fury hasn't lasted more than 20 minutes, it seems.  Longer lasting is the cooler air it leaves behind.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

or in that vicinity...

Man, what a long day at work today.  Thinking that I would be taking off early to have coffee with my former boss/still current friend, Joe, I went into the office about two hours early.  I'm not an early morning kind of person in the first place but this morning was particularly drizzly and dreary.  

Then along 17th St, I noticed a rainbow flag.  Not all that unusual in this part of town (Dupont Circle).  Half a block later on the other side of the street, a restaurant had tied six huge streamers - red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple - from one point on the grill of a second story window, and then fanned them out downwards to the outer patio railing.  The result was a fantastic triangular canopy under which the diners would be able to sit.  Contrasting with the grey sky, it was even more breathtaking.  That's when it occurred to me that it's Pride Week in DC.

A partly rainy/partly sunny morning is the kind of time one would expect to see rainbows, and I saw a lot of them.

It turns out that Joe's flight was canceled, which meant traveling headaches for him and no coffee with Joe for me.  Instead, it wasn't until dusk that I left the office.  The evening walk back along 17th was very different from the morning.  For one thing, evening light is very different from morning light.  For another, many more shops and homes had put up their Pride decorations.   Rainbows burst from many a window, flagpole and railing.  Passing by the same restaurant, I realized that what I had seen this morning was an unfinished product.  Colored streamers of six hues now wove in and out of the patio railing to form a rainbow fence.  Gone was the delicate canopy, lost in the addition of more streamers and lights.  Instead of nature's rainbow, I was now thinking Disneyland.  But otoh, with the twinkly Christmas lights, it was a festive place to dine.  Certainly, the patrons seemed happy.

About a block later, I realized that other lights were twinkling as well.  Tonight, I spotted my first fireflies of the season.  Several of them, flashing bright in the growing darkness.**  No matter how many more years I live, I will never cease to be amazed by fireflies.


**Ironically, the fireflies reminded me even more of Disneyland.  Growing up in California, I did not see my first real firefly until well into adulthood, which is why I'll never take them for granted.  The only inkling I had of what a firefly was like was from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney.  The first time I saw a real one (and almost every time since), my first reaction was that nature reminded me of artifice.  Yes, I know it's perverse.


Labour of Love

Love's Labour Lost

Every year, DC's Shakespeare Theater Company puts on a free production in the Carter Barron Amphitheater in Rock Creek Park. First of all, I just love Rock Creek Park, a wide swath of un-manicured greenery down the center of DC. Secondly, I love Shakespeare outdoors. Not only is it more festive, but the less formal environment usually encourages the production company to loosen up and take more chances.

Which brings me to thirdly... this years free production was Love's Labors Lost, set in India in the 1960s. Complete with Maharishi and rock stars and a drug-addled hippie and hip chicks in go-go boots on mopeds.

The set was done in gorgeous bright colours, and as the sun set in the park the stage took on even more psychedelic vibrancy. It literally glowed. The rock tunes had us clapping and cheering in delight. It is certainly an unexpected moment to see drums and electric guitar in Shakespeare.


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